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Wikileaks Defies U.S. Order, Releases Classified Files

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AP

The online website WikiLeaks unveiled hundreds of thousands of classified State Department documents Sunday in defiance of U.S. government and military demands not to publish the files.  According to the Associated Press, the WikiLeaks website appeared to be inaccessible early Sunday and the group reported in its Twitter feed that the leaked documents would be printed in the U.S. and Europe if they could not be posted online.

The Obama administration has been bracing for the documents' release for the past week.  Upon today's release, the White House immediately denounced the decision to release the classified files, claiming they may endanger U.S. diplomats and intelligence agents.  Included among the documents are off-the-record candid assessments of some foreign leaders and governments -- characterizations that threaten to undermine U.S. standing in the international community.

The White House says many of the documents reflect initial reports that are "often incomplete" and don't always shape final policy decision.  In addition, the Obama administration denounced the stunt as "reckless and dangerous" and considers the classified files "stolen."

The Pentagon is also taking steps to shield itself from the document leak and says it has tightened security procedures since WikiLeaks' last document dump.  The Defense Department also announced Sunday new efforts its taking to prevent future unauthorized releases.

Since August, the Pentagon has changed its rules of file transfers utilizing flash drives or similar data storage memos, spokesman Bryan Whitman said Sunday.  It has also changed the way classified materials are moved to and from unclassified computer systems, hopefully making it more difficult for an individual to steal secrets.

An Army specialist is reportedly the prime suspect in the latest theft of some of the materials.

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